NEW YORK CITY — Mayor Bill de Blasio and his team will not face any criminal charges in connection to a campaign probe, the acting U.S. Attorney and Manhattan District Attorney announced Thursday.
"After careful deliberation, given the totality of the circumstances here and absent additional evidence, we do not intend to bring federal criminal charges against the Mayor or those acting on his behalf relating to the fundraising efforts in question," said Acting U.S. Attorney Joon Kim, the former deputy for Preet Bharara, who took over the top seat after Bharara was fired by President Donald Trump on Saturday.
"Although it is rare that we issue a public statement about the status of an investigation, we believe it appropriate in this case at this time, in order not to unduly influence the upcoming campaign and Mayoral election.”
Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance released a letter to the New York State Board of Elections explaining that while the mayor's conduct appears to have violated "the intent and spirit of the laws," his office would not be seeking criminal charges because de Blasio was following his lawyer's advice at the time.
"After extensive investigation, not withstanding the [Board of Election's] view that the conduct here may have violated the Election Law, this office has determined that the parties involved cannot be appropriately prosecuted, given their reliance on the advice of counsel."
The U.S. Attorney's office, in conjunction with the FBI, had been investigating the mayor's fundraising during his 2013 election campaign, as well as an effort to get Democrats elected to seats upstate during the 2014 State Senate race. Also under investigation was the mayor's Campaign for One New York, a nonprofit that came under fire for steering money from donors into pet projects such as his Universal Pre-K initiative and others.
During the course of the investigation, investigators "conducted a thorough investigation into several circumstances in which Mayor de Blasio and others acting on his behalf solicited donations from individuals who sought official favors from the City, after which the Mayor made or directed inquiries to relevant City agencies on behalf of those donors," Kim said.
"In considering whether to charge individuals with serious public corruption crimes, we take into account, among other things, the high burden of proof, the clarity of existing law, any recent changes in the law, and the particular difficulty in proving criminal intent in corruption schemes where there is no evidence of personal profit," Kim added.
The Campaign for One New York also steered money toward state Senate races in an attempt to win a Democratic majority, according to Vance's letter to the Board of Elections.
On WNYC's "Brian Lehrer Show" Thursday morning, the mayor defended his conduct.
"I've said consistently that we acted appropriately. We acted lawfully," he said. "We held ourselves to a very high standard and we will continue to."
He denied the Manhattan DA's assertion that his fundraising violated state fundraising statutes.
"The law was quite clear, and we have respected that law throughout," de Blasio said.
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